At the sound of the annoying beeping, Eren slammed his hand down on the alarm and heard it crack unpleasantly; but right now, he couldn't care less. As he rolled out of bed and trudged into the shower, he grumbled about having finally agreed to Armin’s proposition: it was clearly a mistake. Who was he to attend university anyway? He wasn't cut out for this. But if it made his best friend happy and gave his life an actual direction, he would have to oblige and agree that this was the best step for him.
He put off going to university for two years. Two years where he sat around and did nothing but stared into the TV blankly or used his quick reflexes to an advantage and completed as many video games as it was possible. By now, they didn't bring him joy or excitement: they were simply there to kill time.
The scolding water came down and burned at his skin but he simply sighed in relief and leaned his head against the cool tiles of the shower wall. Pain was welcome. It stopped his mind trying to run away to unpleasant thoughts. It was his first day at university; those thoughts were the last thing he needed.
As he dressed into his usual attire, a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, he squinted at the sun high in the sky. The bright rays hurt; he was simply not used to daylight with how much time he spent in his room and only left at nights to be with his friends from time to time. Of course, that didn't happen until recently. After finding the strength to actually finish high school, he tried to cut contact with most of his friends. Evidently, that was impossible to accomplish with the people he lived with.
The smell of bacon rose in the air and he cringed as he walked down the hall to the kitchen. That obviously meant Armin was already up; he quickly came to a realization that he shouldn't have been surprised. Armin stood by the stove, his long blonde hair pulled back into a loose ponytail to keep it away from the food. He turned to look at Eren with bags under his eyes yet a smile on his face. Eren rolled his eyes; Armin and learning had a very unhealthy relationship.
He sat down on the stool and stared blankly at the counter top. “Are you at least a bit excited?” Armin asked him in a chirpy voice as he sat down opposite of Eren with a plate full of breakfast. Armin looked up at him with hopeful eyes but Eren shook his head; the food was the last thing on his mind.
“Will it make you happy if I say yes?” Eren replied blankly.
Armin frowned and looked down at his food again. “It’s supposed to make you happy, not me.” He mumbled as he played with his food slightly.
Eren sighed and frowned at Armin, realizing how anti-social he was being. “I'm sorry.” He murmured. “I'm not a morning person.” He admitted and his head shot up as he heard Mikasa come into the kitchen, fully dressed. She gave him a look and mumbled a ‘good morning’ to Armin.
Eren felt bad. He was having a clear negative effect on the people around him. Mikasa’s eyes used to hold so much more emotion in them before everything happened and after a reply like that, Armin would normally not be able to resist a ‘creature of the night’ joke. Now, there was only silence.
But it was time for a change, he told himself. It’s been five years.
“You had your first class yesterday right, Mikasa?” He asked, trying to spark a conversation going. She raised her eyebrows at him before she bent down to a separate refrigerator and pulled out two red bags.
“Yeah!” Armin echoed, quickly trying to add to a conversation. “How was it?”
“It was interesting.” Mikasa replied, a small smile pulling up at the corners of her lips. It wasn't a long answer and Eren didn't expect one, but this was progress. She dumped a mug in front of Eren and gave him a pointed, stern look.
He rolled his eyes and looked down at the contents: the very liquid which kept him alive. “Are you heading to work?” He asked her in return, not bothering with the contents of the mug yet.
“Yeah, I'm on a morning shift. I have a class in the afternoon.” She replied as she sat down next to him, bringing her own mug with the very same liquid up to her lips. “You need a ride?” She asked him and the smell of said liquid finally reached his nostrils, making him tense up slightly. Mikasa currently worked a part-time job at a hospital. Even though she just started working on her medical degree, she managed to get a job as a receptionist in the large, local hospital. It opened doors for her future and clearly came very useful to all of them; after all, it was easy for her to get a hold of blood bags without anybody being overly suspicious.
“It’s fine. I’ll walk.” He told her and finally caved in, grabbing the mug and bringing the contents up to his lips. The cold, red liquid poured down his quickly burning throat and soothed it so much he had to let a relieved sigh escape his mouth.
Mikasa put her mug into the dishwasher and walked back, messing Armin’s hair up along the way which made him exclaim a ‘hey!’ as a small smile teased her lips. She put her arm around Eren and kissed his cheek before sorting out a misplaced hair on his fringe, earning a push and a ‘stop it’ from her brother. She gave them a wave and left with a quiet ‘bye.’
“What about you, Blondie? When’s your class?” Eren forced a teasing smile onto his face as he directed the question to Armin.
Armin sent him a fake glare as he looked down at his watch. “In two hours. But I promised to meet a friend before.” He spoke as he put his plate in the dishwasher. The university was a good 15 minute walk from their current house. “You want to walk with me? We’re meeting at the coffee shop near the university.”
Now that it was too late to really drink anything, Eren realized maybe coffee was something he would enjoy. His sense of taste did not work the same way Armin’s did, which was why he gave up long ago on even bothering with food. He didn't need it to survive: it was a deluxe. But perhaps the taste of caffeine working on his tired body would slowly start to bring his appetite back. “Yeah, I’ll come.” He replied before putting his own mug in the dishwasher.
After pulling on his trainers, he followed Armin out. Armin started talking about the course they started at the university yesterday and how excited he was to learn about it. Armin was halfway through his degree in Marine biology. Unlike Eren and Mikasa, he started university right after high school which put him at the same age of 20 as them but two years ahead at the university.
Eren pretended to listen and nodded along to his friend’s rambling. Armin was easily excited when it came to learning new things. It was almost endearing watching as his big, blue eyes widened and more words started spewing out of his mouth. Eren wished he could be as passionate as Armin at times. He silently hoped that the photography course he himself was starting today would bring that trait out in him.
Whenever Eren looked at Armin he couldn't believe how far they have all come. It was 6 years ago, give or take a few weeks, when he told Armin all about what he was. Armin was, of course, freaked out. It wasn't hard to get Armin to freak out. He remembered the amount of comforting and repetitive assuring that was needed to make Armin trust him and Mikasa again.
“Armin!” Eren snapped out of his thoughts as a tall, brunette skipped over to Armin and hugged him tightly, almost picking up the smaller boys’ body off the ground. Her hair was tied up in a rather messy ponytail- which told Eren it was either on purpose or she moved around a lot- and a pair of glasses was perched on her nose. “Eren, right?” He looked up at the sound of his name. “Armin told me so much about you! I'm Hanji.” She introduced herself and Eren nodded as he put out his hand but was instead pulled into a tight hug. He stood tensely and patted her back in return. “Not a big hugger then.” Hanji murmured as she pulled away.
“Hanji is in her final year. She’s studying biology. She helped me out a lot last year.” Armin quickly added context and Eren understood why Hanji looked slightly older and taller. Then again, it wasn't hard to be taller than Armin. He himself towered over the blond and matched Hanji’s height.
As they continued walking, Eren quickly came to realize that Hanji was louder and more energetic than anybody he has ever met. She was pretty much the opposite of Mikasa. “What about you Eren?” He looked up at the mention of his name again. “Your first year, right?”
“That’s right.” He replied quickly, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I'm studying Photography.”
“Oh!” Hanji squealed. “If you ever need a model, you let me know.” She winked at him and struck a pose in the middle of the street.
To his surprise, a chuckle left his lips which quickly made Armin’s eyes widen. “I’ll keep it in mind.” He told her with a small smile and realized that he would definitely be warming up to Hanji.
They reached a coffee shop- Cafe Rose, the sign above said- and picked a table by the middle. “You guys want anything?” Eren spoke up as they settled down. “My treat.” He added, hoping to make sure Hanji warmed up to him further. Armin declined politely and Hanji decided on a hot chocolate, although she felt bad for him buying. He assured her it was fine and walked up to the counter.
Eren stopped just before he got there. He watched the man behind the cash register struggle with putting in more paper and pursed his lips to keep himself from making sounds. “Mike! This shitty piece of crap is not working!” The man called and was quickly joined by another man who helped him out. Eren felt amusement at the extensive vocabulary of the man.
He was rather short compared to his older looks, as complimented by the permanent furrow between his eyes. Although, now that Eren took a closer look, his complexion and the simple feeling he gave off told Eren the guy couldn't be too old. His hair was styled in an undercut, his black fringe not allowing Eren to see his eyes well. He wore fully black clothes: the sleeves of his long sleeved top slightly pushed up. They revealed a tight, black wristband around his wrist accompanied by a silver chain.
And then, Eren couldn't keep the smile off his face any longer. The man had a light, bright green apron on with pink, cursive writing in the middle which said ‘Cafe Rose.’ It was such a comedic sight; the man dressed in all black, with a permanent scowl on his face dressed in bright green and pink.
He approached the counter, trying to hold in his smile. “What can I get you?” The man mumbled, his voice deep and bored; he clearly could think of better places to be than here.
Eren placed his order, not taking his eyes off the man. He handed over the money and watched as the man looked up at him. His eyes were slightly intimidating, but a striking grey colour. They were sharp and clever as they gave Eren a look over. It was then Eren’s self control slipped and an unattractive snort escaped him. “Something wrong, brat?” He was asked sharply, the man raising his thin eyebrow at him.
Eren decided he would look even stupider if he didn't reply. “Nice apron.” He commented and couldn't keep the smile off his face.
The man rolled his eyes in reply and turned around to make the drinks, muttering to himself about ‘shitty brats’ and ‘spitting in the drink.’ That made Eren’s smile even bigger.
As the man finished with the drinks and was about to hand them over, Hanji appeared next to Eren. “What’s with the deathly scowl?” She asked and Eren was about to ask her what she meant when he realized she was addressing the man. “Oh wait, that’s your happy face.” Hanji added and grinned teasingly.
“What are you doing here, four eyes?” The man mumbled as he returned to wiping the counter.
“It might surprise you, Levi, but people come here to drink and hang out.” Hanji teased and leaned on the counter, moving closer. Eren looked down at the man’s name tag and sure enough he watched the letters spell out ‘Levi.’ “Now, you weren't a total ass to my friend, Eren, were you?” Hanji wrapped her arm around Eren’s shoulders and focused her gaze on Levi.
“Yes, I was perfectly delightful.” Levi replied in a blank tone, focusing his eyes on Eren. He almost dared him to say otherwise.
“Levi, that’s not a way to make friends.” Hanji scolded like a mother would a child. “Levi’s a friend of mine.” She instead turned to look at Eren. “He’s in his last year too.” She added. That probably put Levi at around 22, if Eren was right.
“Right, well, great to meet you.” Levi spoke again, addressing Eren, his tone as blank as ever. “Now if you excuse me, I have work to do.” He excused himself and returned to wiping the tables behind the counter.
Hanji shook her head next to Eren and grabbed her drink. “That’s Levi for you.” She muttered as she took a sip of her drink and then hissed, realizing how hot it was. “An interesting character, isn't he?” She murmured, eyeing Eren.
Eren raised an eyebrow and looked over Levi again, his eyes scanning over the man’s back. “I think the apron definitely adds to his appeal.” Eren commented which made Hanji burst into laughter while Levi turned his head and shot them a dirty look.
It was then that Eren looked down at his phone and cursed at the time. He had to get going if he didn't want to be late to his first lecture. “I have to get going.” He told Hanji and Armin as they returned to the table.
“It was nice to meet you, Eren.” Hanji grinned at him. “Hope we can do this again.” She added and he nodded in reply. They exchanged numbers and he waved at them. As he was about to leave, his gaze caught Levi’s and he couldn't resist bringing his cup up in thanks and smiling at the frowning man. He thought he saw the corner of the man’s lips twitch up before he turned away.
Eren was smiling when he left. But that didn't last long. The reality hit him like a brick.
This wasn't his life. He wouldn't have some sort of a happy ending. He wouldn't pursue his hobbies and passions, he wouldn't work and come home to a loving family, he wouldn't teach any of his kids how to ride a bike or put plasters on their scraped knees. He wouldn't grow old, surrounded by his friends and drinking tea.
Because he would live forever. He would act as if there was a future behind him getting a degree. He would act like he was a normal guy. He would act like he adored food. He would act normal, when he was the furthest from.
Why? Because he was a damn bloodsucker: a vampire.
The only thing that satisfied him was blood and he stayed clear away from silver. Sunlight made him uncomfortable and so did big crowds, full of people with blood pumping in their veins. But he would put up the act.
He almost, almost, smiled as he brought his cup up to his lips and took a sip of the coffee filled with caffeine which would do exactly nothing to his body. He was a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. And the part which actually amused him? Nobody would be able to tell from simply looking at him. He didn't act like any other vampires he ever encountered, and that was perhaps why he was still alive.
This time, he let a small smile slip onto his lips as he took another sip of his drink. Never believe what people tell you about vampires, kids.